The Blessings of Broccoli

brocoliby Sharon Quercioli

For years, my parents told me to eat my Broccoli. Well, mom and dad were right all along! This hearty, tasty vegetable is rich in dozens of nutrients, and I want to share with you just how good broccoli is for us.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli’s noteworthy nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A (mostly as beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium and fiber. While the calcium content of one serving doesn’t equal that of a glass of milk, broccoli is an important calcium source for those who don’t consume dairy products. Since I am lactaid intolerant, broccoli is a great choice for me. Calcium does more than build strong bones. Research shows that this mineral may play a role in the control of high blood pressure and help to prevent colon cancer.

Vitamin C and Beta-carotene are important antioxidants that have been linked to a reduced risk of numerous conditions, including  heart disease, cataracts and several cancers.

Broccoli is loaded with fiber. Not only is it a rich source, but half of its fiber is insoluble and half is soluble, helping to meet your needs for both types of fiber. But the story doesn’t end with broccoli’s rich array of nutrients. Broccoli provides a health bonus in the form of protective substances that may shield you from disease. Botanically, broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, collectively known as cruciferous vegetables.

Health organizations have singled out cruciferous vegetables as must-have foods, recommending we eat them several times a week. Why? They are linked to lower rates of cancer. Like all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli naturally contains two important phytochemicals: indoles and isothiocyanates. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore isolatedfrom broccoli an isothiocyanate called sulforaphane, which increases the activity of a group of enzymes in our bodies that squelch cancer-causing agents.

broc10 Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is a veritable goldmine of nutrition. Here are 10 reasons why broccoli should be an essential part of your diet:

Diet Aid: Broccoli is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar, prevents constipation and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli is low in calories.

Vision: Studies have shown that the carotenoid lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as possessing anti-cancer effects. Additionally, broccoli is a good source of vitamin A that is needed to form retinal, the light-absorbing molecule essential for both low-light and color vision.

Nervous System: Broccoli contains a high amount of potassium, which helps maintain a healthy nervous system and optimal brain function, as well as promoting regular muscle growth.

Blood Pressure: Along with a high amount of potassium, broccoli also contains magnesium and calcium that help regulate blood pressure.

Vitamin C: One cup of broccoli contains the RDA of vitamin C, an antioxidant necessary for fighting against free radicals. Moreover, vitamin C is an effective antihistamine for easing the discomfort of the common cold. We all know how important Vitamin C is for us.

Bone Health: Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.

Sun Damage: Broccoli is helpful in repairing skin damage thanks to the glucoraphanin it contains, which helps the skin to detoxify and repair itself.

Immune System: One cup of broccoli bolsters the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene. Trace minerals, such as zinc and selenium, further act to strengthen immune defense actions.

Cancer: Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which along with the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body of H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, but also boost liver function.

Heart Disease: The carotenoid lutein may also slow down or prevent the thickening of arteries in the human body, thus fighting against heart disease and stoke. The B6 and folate in broccoli also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.

Soooooooooo, I can now see why my parents always wanted me to eat my Broccoli. How about YOU!


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